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Power

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-we-find-some-dilithium dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks.

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.
KDE

KDE Releases Plasma 5.1 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
jrepin notes the release of KDE Plasma 5.1. Quoting the release announcement: KDE Plasma 5.1 sports a wide variety of improvements, leading to greater stability, better performance and new and improved features. Thanks to the feedback of the community, KDE developers were able to package a large number of fixes and enhancements into this release, among which more complete and higher quality artwork following the new-in-5.0 Breeze style, re-addition of popular features such as the Icon Tasks taskswitcher and improved stability and performance.

Those traveling regularly will enjoy better support for time zones in the panel's clock, while those staying at home a revamped clipboard manager, allowing you to easily get at your past clipboard's content. The Breeze widget style is now also available for Qt4-based applications, leading to greater consistency across applications. The work to support Wayland as display server for Plasma is still ongoing, with improved, but not complete support in 5.1. Changes throughout many default components improve accessibility for visually impaired users by adding support for screenreaders and improved keyboard navigation. Aside from the visual improvements and the work on features, the focus of this release lies also on stability and performance improvements, with over 180 bugs resolved since 5.0 in the shell alone."
Displays

Oculus Hiring Programmers, Hardware Engineers, and More For VR Research Division 16

Posted by timothy
from the guiding-your-eyeballs dept.
An anonymous reader writes Buried toward the end of the must-watch keynote by Oculus VR's Chief Scientist, Michael Abrash, was the announcement of a new research division within Oculus which Abrash says is the "first complete, well funded VR research team in close to 20 years." He says that their mission is to advance VR and that the research division will publish its findings and also work with university researchers. The company is now hiring "first-rate programmers, hardware engineers, and researchers of many sorts, including optics, displays, computer vision and tracking, user experience, audio, haptics, and perceptual psychology," to be part of Oculus Research.
Transportation

Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-for-individual-resale dept.
SchrodingerZ writes: Nine days after Elon Musk hinted about a new project, Tesla Motors has unveiled the P85D Sedan. This is Tesla's latest car design, capable of feats not yet seen in electric vehicles. The four door luxury car is able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 3.2 seconds, an acceleration similar to the McLaren F1 super car. While the exterior remains the same build as the standard Model S, the interior will have a second motor in the front of the car to complement the rear motor. The D models will also have a slightly greater range of 275 miles on a single charge, 10 miles more than the 85 and P85 cars. Safety features have also been enhanced, adding "adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed limit signs, stop itself if a crash is imminent, stay in its lane, and even park itself in a street spot or in your garage." Musk explains at the inaugural event, "this car is nuts. It's like taking off from a carrier deck. It's just bananas." The "D" version is available for the 60kWh, 80kWh, and P85 cars, and are expected to start shipping in December of this year.
AT&T

AT&T To Repay $80 Million In Shady Phone Bill Charges 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
First time accepted submitter dibdublin writes The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T. The FTC announcement reads in part: "As part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming. The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission."
Android

Details of iOS and Android Device Encryption 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the protecting-your-cat-pictures-from-the-gubmint dept.
swillden writes: There's been a lot of discussion of what, exactly, is meant by the Apple announcement about iOS8 device encryption, and the subsequent announcement by Google that Android L will enable encryption by default. Two security researchers tackled these questions in blog posts:

Matthew Green tackled iOS encryption, concluding that the change really boils down to applying the existing iOS encryption methods to more data. He also reviews the iOS approach, which uses Apple's "Secure Enclave" chip as the basis for the encryption and guesses at how it is that Apple can say it's unable to decrypt the devices. He concludes, with some clarification from a commenter, that Apple really can't (unless you use a weak password which can be brute-forced, and even then it's hard).

Nikolay Elenkov looks into the preview release of Android "L." He finds that not only has Google turned encryption on by default, but appears to have incorporated hardware-based security as well, to make it impossible (or at least much more difficult) to perform brute force password searches off-device.
Google

Google Code-In 2014 and Google Summer of Code 2015 Announced 15

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-things-google dept.
d33tah notes the announcement of Google Code-In 2014 and Google Summer of Code 2015. A call to all students: if you have ever thought it would be cool to write code and see it make a difference in the world, then please keep reading. We are excited to announce the next editions of two programs designed to introduce students to open source software development, Google Summer of Code for university students and Google Code-in for 13-17 year old students.
Businesses

Apple Sapphire Glass Supplier GT Advanced Files For Bankruptcy 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
mrspoonsi writes GT Advanced Technologies is filing for bankruptcy. In an announcement on Monday, GT Advanced, which makes sapphire displays that many investors hoped would be in Apple's newest iPhone, said that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In early September, shares of GT Advanced got crushed after the company's sapphire displays were not in the latest version of Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. GT Advanced, however, signed a multi-year agreement with Apple last November to supply the company with sapphire material. That agreement included a $578 million prepayment, which GT Advanced is set to repay Apple over a five-year period starting in 2015.
HP

HP Is Planning To Split Into Two Separate Businesses, Sources Say 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-things-up dept.
mrspoonsi writes Hewlett-Packard is planning to split itself into two separate businesses, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. Sources tell the WSJ that HP will split its personal-computer and printer segments from its corporate hardware and services business. The announcement could come as early as Monday, the sources said. The company reorganized itself in 2012 under CEO Meg Whitman. That move combined its computer and printer businesses. The PC and computer segment is massive for HP. For the first six months this year, it reported $27.8 billion in revenue. That's about three times the size of HP's next biggest unit, the Enterprise Group, which makes servers, storage, and network hardware. Under the new split, Whitman would be chairman of the computer and printer business, and CEO of a separate Enterprise Group, according to one of the sources. Patricia Russo, who sits on HP's board, would be chairman of the enterprise company. The printer and PC operation would be led by Dion Weisler, a current exec in that division.
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Is It Worth Being Grandfathered On Verizon's Unlimited Data Plan? 209

Posted by timothy
from the grandfather-is-a-verb dept.
An anonymous reader writes I understand a lot of people dislike Verizon in general, but assuming for a moment that they were your only option for a cellular service provider, is staying on their grandfathered unlimited data plan still worth it? Their recent announcement to not throttle traffic is inpiring, but I just don't know the long-term benefits of staying on this plan. I fear there is a tipping point where enough people will swap over to a metered plan and Verizon will ultimately abandon the unlimited altogether and assume the risk of losing a percentage of those remaining folks, at which point all of us who bought unsubsidized phones will have wasted the money doing so. Does anyone have any insight on this? Useful answers to this should take into account the problem with the question of "How long is a piece of string?" Give some context about how much you pay, and how much you use -- and how much that would change if the price were different.
Open Source

Linux Foundation Announces Major Network Functions Virtualization Project 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-future-tech dept.
Andy Updegrove writes: The Linux Foundation this morning announced the latest addition to its family of major hosted open source initiatives: the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV). Its mission is to develop and maintain a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform for the telecom industry. Importantly, the thirty-eight founding members include not only cloud and service infrastructure vendors, but telecom service providers, developers and end users as well. The announcement of OPNFV highlights three of the most significant trends in IT: virtualization (the NFV part of the name refers to network function virtualization), moving software and services to the cloud, and collaboratively developing complex open source platforms in order to accelerate deployment of new business models while enabling interoperability across a wide range of products and services. The project is also significant for reflecting a growing recognition that open source projects need to incorporate open standards planning into their work programs from the beginning, rather than as an afterthought.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Touch For Phones Hits RTM, First Phones Coming This Year 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the competition-is-a-good-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In early 2013, Canonical showed the world Ubuntu Touch, a version of Ubuntu developed specifically for smartphones. Now, the mobile operating system has finally reached "release to manufacturing" status. (Here's the release announcement.) The first phone running Ubuntu Touch, the Meizu MX4, will start shipping in December. "Details are scarce on its hardware, but a leak from iGeek suggests the Pro variant may have a Samsung Exynos 5430 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560x1536 resolution screen. ... This more powerful hardware is good news if true, and it bodes well for Ubuntu's vision of computing convergence." Softpedia has a preview of the RTM version of the OS. They say performance has improved significantly, even on old phones, and that the UI has been polished into a much better state.
Transportation

DHL Goes Live With 'Parcelcopter' Drone Delivery Service 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-can-yellow-do-for-you dept.
jones_supa writes: In December, Amazon announced it intends to deliver packages to customers using drones. But its initiative was widely ridiculed for being an over-hyped announcement with little to show for it. This summer, Google demonstrated its own drone-based delivery service, using a fixed-wing aircraft to deliver little packages to farmers in the Australian outback. But now, German delivery firm DHL has beaten the tech firms to the punch, announcing a regular drone delivery service for the first time, nine months after it launched its "parcelcopter" research project in December 2013. The service will use an quadcopter to deliver small parcels to the German island of Juist, a sandbar island 12km into the North Sea from the German coast, inhabited by 2,000 people. Deliveries will include medication and other urgently needed goods. Flying below 50 meters to avoid entering regulated air traffic corridors, the drone takes a fully automated route, carrying a special air-transport container that is extremely lightweight as well as weatherproof.
United States

Mark Zuckerberg Throws Pal Joe Green Under the Tech Immigration Bus 261

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-pal dept.
theodp (442580) writes "A month after he argued that Executive Action by President Obama on tech immigration was needed lest his billionaire bosses at Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC have to hire 'just sort of OK' U.S. workers, Re/code reports that Joe Green — Zuckerberg's close friend and college roommate — has been pushed out of his role as President of FWD.us for failing to Git-R-Done on an issue critical to the tech community. "Today, we wanted to share an important change with you," begins 'Leadership Change', the announcement from the FWD.us Board that Todd Schulte is the new Green. So what sold FWD.us on Schulte? "His [Schulte's] prior experience as Chief-of-Staff at Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election," assured Zuckerberg in a letter to FWD.us contributors, "will ensure FWD.us continues its momentum for reform." Facebook, reported the Washington Post in 2013, became legally "dependent" on H-1B visas and subject to stricter regulations shortly before Zuckerberg launched FWD.us with Green at the helm."
Transportation

Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains 179

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-can-go-nothing-can-go-nothing-can-go-wrong dept.
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes with news of interest to anyone with reason to ride mass transit in the U.S., specifically on the D.C. Metro system: After a crash some five years ago, automatic operation was abandoned. Now however replacement of 'faulty' modules means that moving the whole system on to automatic operation can happen. One quote is depressing: "And because trains regularly lurch to a halt a few feet short of where they should be at platforms, Metrorail riders have grown accustomed to hearing an announcement while they're waiting to board: 'Stand clear. Train moving forward.'" That never happens on the London underground with human operators? What's wrong with American drivers?
Open Source

Digia Spins Off Qt As Subsidiary 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the musical-overlords dept.
DeviceGuru writes: Following through on an announcement from August, Digia has spun off a subsidiary called The Qt Company to unify Qt's commercial and open source efforts, and debuted a low-cost plan for mobile developers. The Linux-oriented Qt cross-platform development framework has had a tumultuous career, having been passed around Scandinavia over the years from Trolltech to Nokia and then from Nokia to Digia. Yet, Qt keeps rolling along in both commercial and open source community versions, continually adding support for new platforms and technologies, and gaining extensive support from mobile developers. Now Qt is its own company, or at least a wholly owned subsidiary under Digia. Finland-based Digia has largely been involved with the commercial versions of Qt since it acquired the platform from Nokia in 2012, but it has also sponsored the community Qt Project as a relatively separate project. Now, both efforts are being unified under one roof at The Qt Company and the new QT.io website, says Digia. Meanwhile, Digia will focus on its larger enterprise software business.
Open Source

New Release of MINIX 3 For x86 and ARM Is NetBSD Compatible 93

Posted by timothy
from the big-and-fancy dept.
An anonymous reader writes MINIX 3 is a small POSIX-compliant operating system aimed at high reliability (embedded) applications. A major new version of MINIX 3 (3.3.0) is now available for download at www.minix3.org. In addition to the x86, the ARM Cortex A8 is now supported, with ports to the BeagleBoard and BeagleBones available. Finally, the entire userland has been redone in 3.3.0 to make it NetBSD compatible, with thousands of NetBSD packages available out of the box. MINIX 3 is based on a tiny (13 KLoC) microkernel with the operating system running as a set of protected user-mode processes. Each device driver is also a separate process. If a driver fails, it is automatically and transparently restarted without rebooting and without applications even noticing, making the system self-healing. The full announcement, with links to the release notes and notes on installation, can be found at the Minix Google Groups page.
Government

NSA Metadata Collection Gets 90-Day Extension 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us-for-90-more-days dept.
schwit1 sends word that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has authorized a 90-day extension to the NSA's ability to collect bulk metadata about U.S. citizens' phone calls. In April, the House of Representatives passed a bill to limit the NSA's collection of metadata, but the Senate has been working on their version of the bill since then without yet voting on it. Because of this, and the alleged importance of continuing intelligence operations, the government sought a 90-day reauthorization of the current program. The court agreed. Senator Patrick Leahy said this clearly demonstrates the need to get this legislation passed. "We cannot wait any longer, and we cannot defer action on this important issue until the next Congress. This announcement underscores, once again, that it is time for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to protect individual privacy.
Iphone

iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters 222

Posted by timothy
from the who'd-a-thunk-it dept.
Even after the months of hype and speculation, the behind-the-scenes development and manufacture, and then the announcement Tuesday, it seems Apple's servers weren't quite ready for the workout they got from would-be early adopters of its newest iPhone. Preorders through Verizon Wireless and AT&T largely started without a hitch at midnight, though some customers on Twitter have since complained about issues. Those problems were nothing compared to the issues experienced by Sprint and T-Mobile customers. The Sprint and T-Mobile sites were still down for many users nearly two hours after presales were slated to start. Access to Sprint's site faded in and out, while the T-Mobile site continued to display a form to register for a reminder for when the preorders began. Some people joked on Twitter that they "might as well wait for the iPhone 6S now." Apple's store itself was down for a few hours, too.

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